I went, I spoke, I got farted on
It's been a while since my last post because I was off in Canada at a conference. It was my first time speaking to a national (International, sort of, although there weren't actually many Canadians there, which is too bad) audience about material from my actual dissertation, and I was really nervous, certain that this would be the time someone would stand up and say, "FRAUD! I wrote that same exact thing 15 years ago!" or "How can you EVEN THINK that is important?" It turns out I have staved off that indignity for a little while longer.
For the most part, things went really well. My talk was slotted early in the program, so there was a good sized crowd of people at my session, which was well received. I got laughs at the right places and good feedback after the session. Also, because I was on so early in the conference, lots of people came up to talk to me about my work throughout the weekend, which was great because I got some useful feedback AND because it solved that "awkward-academic-nothing-to-say-cocktail-party" problem.
Really, it went very well. I was most relieved, and it was a real shot in the arm for me-- I feel much more grounded and like a professional than before, and I am hoping this will have the effect of jumpstarting writing and analytical brilliance in the next couple of weeks. It was an exhausting 4 days with pretty much nonstop networking from 7am until 11pm every night, and I am still pretty tired, but in general I feel very good about the experience.
Except, well, for one thing:
In my field there is a senior person who has a very public and high stakes conflict with my advisor. He knows me a little bit from a few years ago, and after my talk he came up to me in a very godfather way and said, "I'd like to talk to you about your future." We scheduled a 15-minute meeting the next afternoon in one of the conference-center lobbies. When we met, he made repetitive, vague, and creepily-delivered statements about how "he could do things for my career" and how "he was proud of me" and "he wanted me to keep in touch with him." In the middle of all this, without changing tempo or tone of speech:
He leaned over on to one buttcheek, and loudly farted. It was very smelly.